August 17, 2011
Have I ever mentioned how much I love summer? Because I really love it –the sunshine, the heat, and especially all of the fresh herbs and produce.
This is one of the few times of the year that you can make a meal out of completely local, in-season ingredients. And one of my favorite things to make — when the tomatoes are ripe and the basil is popping — is pizza. Here are two versions to make straight from the garden to your kitchen and finally into your mouth!
This is a great appetizer for outdoor gatherings and the best part is you can use up tons of the green leafy stuff that seems to overwhelm gardeners this time of year.
15 sheets of filo
1 stick butter
2-4 roma tomatoes
6-8 cups cut, cleaned greens (spinach or chard)
3 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup feta cheese
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 to 2 batches of pesto for a base
Start by preparing the pesto base and then set it aside. Use your favorite pesto recipe if you have one, but generally the proportions for one batch go: 1 clove garlic, 2 cups basil, 2 tbsp nuts (pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or walnuts), 1/2 cup olive oil (or as needed), 1/2 cup parmesan (or as needed). Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until combined. You can also replace the basil with cilantro if you like.
Next you’ll want to prepare your greens by wilting them in a frying pan with some olive oil and sprinkles of salt and pepper. Then you’ll lay out your filo to create a crust. Use a pastry brush to brush butter onto your pan and in between each layer. I find that a moist paper towel covered with saran wrap on top of the filo helps keep it from drying out and tearing easily. Spread the sheets out as needed to cover your pan.
Next you’ll top the crust with the pesto base, then the greens and most of the mozzarella. Before you add the circles of tomatoes, dredge them in the breadcrumbs and then space them evenly across your pizza. Finally top the pizza with the rest of the mozzarella and sprinkle with the feta. Bake in the oven on 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Slice into squares and serve hot or cold.
Margarita Pizza with a Twist
2 cups basil, washed
4-5 tomatoes, chopped in circles
1 package of fresh mozzarella, chopped in circles
1 package of pizza yeast (plus the flour, salt, and sugar needed for the dough)
1 pesto batch
First prepare a batch of pesto and set it aside. Then you’ll prepare the dough according to the instructions on the yeast package. When you are to the kneading stage add the pesto to the dough and make sure it is evenly distributed. Roll out your pesto dough on a floured surface with a rolling pin and then top it with the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil and cook on 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.
If this “sauceless” version is too dry for you and you have a lot of tomatoes, you can always make your own sauce. All you have to do is chop and de-seed 3-5 lbs of tomatoes and cook them down in a large sauce pan. I usually add salt, pepper, and oregano to taste as seasoning. Making sauce is pretty simple it just takes time to let all of the excess liquid cook off.